New research from CarGurus shows how in-the-market consumers first contact dealers about a used car advertised online

  • A quarter of car buyers prefer to make first contact with a dealer over email
  • Half of consumers said email response rate wasn't good enough with slow and unhelpful replies
  • Whilst face-to-face enquiries are still the preferred method of contact, 28% use the phone at the start of the car buying process
  • Almost a quarter of prospective customers click on maps to plan their first visit to a dealership, with younger buyers two times more likely to do this than their older counterparts
  • Nearly a third of buyers will check reviews of the dealership before making a formal enquiry
  • CarGurus has the fastest growing audience among large automotive shopping sites in the UK*

Dealers could be missing out on car sales by failing to reply to buyer email queries, according to insights from online automotive marketplace, CarGurus.

The study of in-the-market consumers found a quarter said their first contact with a dealer would always be via email - but half complained about a woeful response rate.

While customers still favour face-to-face conversations in the first instance, dealers need to be increasingly aware of turning off car shoppers with poor email and phone communications.

Potential buyers said email responses weren't quick enough and that even when they did get a reply it was often from someone who couldn't help. Customers are also left annoyed by a stream of spam messages filling up the inbox after contacting a dealership.

And for those thinking the humble telephone is dead. It's not. The study found it is still used by 28% as a first port of call with just over a third who plan to visit the forecourt not making any contact remotely beforehand.

"It's obvious really, first impressions count," says Wendy Harris, Vice President of European Sales at CarGurus. "In an age of instant gratification and immediacy, dealers need to make sure they have the processes and people in place to respond in a timely and accurate fashion."

Making a strong digital first impression is another crucial element at the beginning of the car buying process.

Almost a quarter of shoppers will click on maps to locate their nearest dealer in order to plan their first visit, with younger buyers over two times more likely to look for directions than their older counterparts. Meanwhile, nearly a third of buyers peruse the reviews of a dealership before making a formal enquiry.

"We're seeing consumers on our site looking to connect with the dealer because they are confident that the deal they have found is fair, the dealer is reputable and trusted and they are simply looking to complete the purchase," adds Wendy.

"As a result, regardless of how they've chosen to engage for the first time, the dealer needs to be structured to respond accordingly. Ironically, they've done the hard part in intelligently pricing the vehicle, but too often let themselves down at the first point of contact."

CarGurus has the fastest growing audience among large automotive shopping sites in the UK*


For further information, please contact:
James Drake at CarGurus / 0208 541 3434 / +44 07809 657178

*Source: comScore Media Metrix, Multi-Platform, UK, percentage change in average unique monthly visitors from Q2 2017 vs Q2 2018, compared against,,, and sites.

About the research
CarGurus commissioned Opinium to poll 1,002 UK adults (18 and over) who have bought a new/used car in the last two years, or plan to buy one in the next year between 31 August to 8 September 2017.

How CarGurus Works:
CarGurus helps car shoppers search local car listings and quickly find great deals from top-rated dealers. Every day, the company analyses millions of data points on hundreds of thousands of UK car listings to calculate each car's Instant Market Value (IMV) or fair retail price. This data is used in combination with dealership ratings from other shoppers to rank and rate available cars results based on the quality of the deal: Great, Good, Fair, High or Overpriced. The site also provides transparency on how long the car has been on the forecourt and if it's had a price drop. Consumers can contact dealers directly.

About CarGurus
Founded in 2006 by Langley Steinert (also a co-founder of TripAdvisor), CarGurus (Nasdaq: CARG) is a global, online automotive marketplace connecting buyers and sellers of cars. The company uses proprietary technology, search algorithms and data analytics to bring trust and transparency to the automotive search experience and help users find great deals from top-rated dealers. CarGurus is the largest automotive shopping site in the U.S. based on monthly unique visitor traffic (source: comScore Media Metrix Multi-Platform, June 2018). CarGurus launched in the UK in 2015 and has the fastest growing audience among large automotive shopping sites in the UK.* In addition to the United Kingdom and the United States, CarGurus operates online marketplaces in Canada, Germany, Spain and Italy.
CarGurus® is a registered trademark of CarGurus, Inc.

To learn more about CarGurus visit
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All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners.

James Drake